Monday, December 21, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Every so often a bird falls from the sky. Lone members of the great armies of birds, squadrons of feathered warriors, falling from the sky, in a slow, skinny , silent rain. We never see them fall, we never hear them land. All that remains is the decayed evidence of their soaring lives found in fields, hedgerows, wasteland, in tree branches, in the great stone plains and at the bottom of the rivers, seas and oceans.
There lives are unrecorded, their history unwritten and their magnificent and terrible journeys are forgotten and blown away. Their routes and plans, what they have seen, what they have done and the families they raised and lost make up millions of untold stories that stretch back to their dinosaur descendants.
We look up occasionally, we crane our necks to watch the weather, mask our eyes from the sun, rage at winter moons or puzzle at the cloud shapes. Outside of our narrow view they soar and dart like our own stray thoughts, never quite at rest, never quite getting anywhere. Staking a strange curved claim or forming a zig-zag geometry across the blue and then back to earth. Tiny souls searching, feeding and posting messages on wires, towers and steeples, tree branches and windowsills till the call comes to them, to fall back to earth.
Sooner or later we all fall back to earth.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
When I was a child
I wanted to be many things
At times they conflicted
As if I could care
So it came to me
That Magnus Robot Fighter
Was who I'd like to be.
The result of some comic bought
Without much plan or thought
The steel hands of Magnus
Chops robots down like trees
In North Am 4000 AD
The diversion lasted
Till we got a colour TV.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Grand people dwell
Or so one assumes
By the size of the rooms.
But when the glory fades
And the thin paint peels
The grand walk away
With a click of the heels
So I drink a toast
To those Grand Hotels
Ne'er do wells
That scans with nothing
And their numbered days
And their numbered doors
And celebrity lives
All gone in an eye sparkle.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Friday: Jackie ran her finger across the pink ticket and read the numbers slowly, mouthing each one as if reciting some whispered poem or incantation. “ 03 10 14 23 40 47.” They were as wild carded and random as they could be, drawn from a lucky dip setting in a branch of ASDA she’d never visited, bought on an impulse and quickly folded and hidden away in her purse like the golden key to a lost treasure. Trembling she had paid for it with the only pound coin in the purse and all through the transaction she had made deep and uncomfortable eye contact with the young man operating the till and the ticket machine. The she had spun quickly on her office heels and walked smartly out of the door and into the car park and across to her car. Once the door had slammed she pulled the ticket out and read the numbers and repeated them, over and over again. Inside her head, aloud, aloud in singsong, aloud in whisper, aloud in a deep made up voice, in accents and with pauses and in staccato rhythms that just came to her. The numbers were alive with a new identity she had breathed into them. After fifteen minutes she put the ticket away, started the engine and drove away, still recounting those six squiggly and fateful digits.
Once Jackie was safely home and the door locked she undressed and quite naked she took the ticket, rolled it up and tied it with a purple cord like a tiny scroll. Then she laid it on a bed of fresh oak and myrtle leaves and scattered the contents of a small brown bag over it. A fine dust of herb like powder covered the leaves and the ticket and she walked around it seven times. Then she placed a wicker pentagram measuring about two feet across over the pile of leaves. She walked around it a further seven times, clockwise and then anti clockwise. Then she stood quite still staring down at the ticket a repeated the numbers, “ 03 10 14 23 40 47, 03 10 14 23 40 47, 03 10 14 23 40 47.” Many times, I don’t know how many times, certainly until it was dark.
Saturday: Jackie woke up on the floor, she was wrapped in a blanket, a stale smell of incense hung in the air, Jackie coughed and rubbed her eyes. The room still revolved around the sacred pile in the centre, the ticket, the leaves, the willow pentagram and the herbs. She stood still wrapped in the blanket and walked over to the window and tugged at the handle. It was stiff and she wrestled with it, it came unstuck suddenly, the window popped and a stiff breeze flooded the room. The wind seemed to spiral up and around the room as if searching, it whisked the curtains, rustled the flowers on the mantelpiece and then saw the pile on the floor. It spat on the leaves and scattered them all over and then picked up the ticket, blew it across the room and into Jackie’s’ outstretched hand. Jackie looked at the ticket, smiled, pushed the window shut and sat down in the corner flicking the ticket between her index and middle fingers. She closed her eyes and whispered, “ 03 10 14 23 40 47.”
In the distance the church bells chimed twelve noon. Jackie opened her eyes and laid the ticket back into the centre of the pentagram and began again the ritual of pacing around and repeating the numbers.
At two o’clock the phone rang, without breaking stride she swooped on the handset, picked it up and spoke, “Yeah? Yeah! Yeah! Ok, see you at seven”.
Jackie stared at the blade of the dagger. Its polished surface reflected the room interior. She laid the blade flat onto the palm of her open hand, her left hand and squeezed it. She gave a slight tremble and bit the corner of her lip. She squeezed the blade more and trembled more then threw it down. It felt like she’d walked through a mirror or a pane of glass or a wall of ice. She pulled the blanket and walked into the kitchen, boiled the kettle and made a cup of coffee, the knife was too much, much too much.
From the kitchen drawer she drew a sheet of paper, the guide and instructions she’d been working from. The preparation, the steps, the moves, the ingredients, the spells and the commitment, she read the whole thing again. The knife. She clutched a pill bottle and shook out and small handful, pondered and threw them into the bin. Then back into the room with the ticket and the knife. This time she didn’t hesitate, she pushed the blade hard into her pink and stretched palm until a red flow appeared, she muffled the scream somewhere back in her throat and fell to her knees, the knife dropped and she spun her arm throwing the bright red onto the scattered leaves, the willow and in a fine spray the ticket. She grasped her hand again and rushed into the kitchen once more, wrapped it in a towel and lit a cigarette with the other. She sat on a stool and vacantly looked out of the window, the towel pressed hard to stem the flow.
An hour later the bleeding had stopped and she returned to the ticket. It was still rolled up and now flecked with red speckles on the outside. She picked it up with her right hand and began the circling and the chanting again, “ 03 10 14 23 40 47,” a sing song tune seemed to accompany her numbers recital. It was nearly four in the afternoon but she had decided to consciously lose track of time, if she could.
There was a thud at the front door, she jumped in surprise and clutched the blanket. She was still naked underneath and sweaty and dizzy with number dance. She was also suddenly aware of a heavy tiredness that was falling all around her. She unlocked the door and saw Buzz standing there. Buzz was dressed head to foot in washed out black jeans and a t-shirt, a heavy silver bracelet was round his right wrist and a chain around his neck. He wore motorcycle boots but didn’t appear to have arrived on one. They exchanged few words, he tried to kiss her but she pushed him back, the pushing continued as they walked (her backwards, him forwards) into the lounge. They stopped and she showed him the ticket. The lounge was sparsely furnished, a couch, a TV, a coffee table and few baskets in the corner. Jackie was suddenly aware of the leaves and the blood stains splashed and scattered across the carpet. Buzz noticed them also, shook his head and smiled “You’re a good girl, let’s see your hand”.
The blood had dried but had been diluted with sweat, the thick red line of the diagonal cut remained and Jackie’s fingers curled in towards it protecting it and pointing like a road sign. She was in pain. Buzz pushed her again and in a quick and mechanical move she grabbed the back of his head with her right hand and planked a deep kiss square on his lips. They coupled and toppled onto the couch, Buzz pulled himself out of his clothes, Jackie’s blanket dropped and they rutted together in the cushions and then across the floor. Time swam for both of them, the ticket had passed from hand to hand to floor, the chanting had long ceased to be replaced by grunts and sighs.
Buzz stood up, pulled on his trousers and hiked the t-shirt back over his head. Jackie was rolled up in the blanket asleep. It was grey dark and cold. Buzz moved through to the kitchen and emerged carry two lit candles, he placed them on the floor by the pentagram, he returned to the kitchen with another two and formed a cross around the shape, he picked up the rolled ticket that had been discarded earlier and returned it to the middle of the remains of the leaves and herbs. The flickering lights awoke Jackie, she sat up on the couch and moved her knees under her chin still in the blanket. Buzz was in the kitchen, glasses clinked and he returned with wine for each of them. Hardly a word had been spoken for some time but after a mouthful of wine Buzz seemed eager to talk and began musing about the lottery ticket, the spell, the candles and how “everything was about to change”. Jackie, slowly coming back to life assured Buzz that she had done everything according to the instructions. “The spell is set, the time is right, everything is coming together for us.” Buzz gently stroked her injured hand, held her fingers and kissed her fingertips and nodded. It was seven thirty, they stared down into the candlelight and onto the tiny numbered paper.
There are many things in life that you can control, there are many more that you cannot. The tension between these two positions, those points and circumstances, has baffled and infuriated the greatest minds, the commonest man and noblest of kings. Seizing the initiative and making a change, willing your position on, against the odds and against the forces of nature, time and the will of whatever god you can name are constant markers in our lifelong struggle, and the struggle to control goes on, by any an every means possible and imaginable.
280 miles north of Jackie and Buzz’s couch, in Berwick upon Tweed, Jackie and her husband Bob were sitting on the couch finishing a Chinese carry out and watching the credits roll on the X-Factor. Bob flicked the remote and called up teletext screen 555. In the back pocket of his jeans was a ticket with three lines on it, he checked the results and swore under his breath, he turned to Jackie, “nothing for me this week darlin‘, you get a ticket?” Jackie reached for her handbag and pulled a ticket from her purse, she read the numbers aloud and watched as Bob’s face lit up in a huge and uncharacteristic smile. “My God! 31, 1, 4, 23, 40, 47...we’ve won!”
Buzz looked at the ticket, “a bloody tenner, all that for a bloody tenner!”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Craig was on his own in the flat, the TV was on in the background playing a documentary about the Beverley Sisters, Jimmy Tarbuck was talking about the London Palladium. Craig was in the kitchen stirring milk and sugar into a white cup of coffee whilst looking into the distance. His mind wasn’t on the TV or the coffee or the annoying fungal infection glowing red and white beneath his foreskin. Neither was he thinking about smoking a cigarette, though that seemed like a good idea, no it was Carol. Carol at the counter of the bar, Carol with the cleavage and the beer and the smile and quick line in cheek and wit, available to all the customers. A golden haze surrounded her in his head in his self indulgent daydream, she wasn’t prefect but she was close to prefect. He stopped stirring coffee into submission, sipped a little and nipped his lip. Then it was back to the couch and some mindless channel hoping to fill the gap until pub time came around.
8.45 was pub time, a clean shirt, a little gel and out down the stairs, through the dim to bright light effect of the lower and corridor and out onto the street. Twenty five steps down the grey stained pavement, a left turn past the laundry, the Chinese and the vacant double glazing shop and then the Saracen’s Head, Carol’s pub, the pub. The spring on the door always needed a tug to overcome, sharp and defiant, holding back entry to the bar but a brisk practiced pull led into the dark brown interior. Craig quickly made a mental note that none of the regulars were in, a suit in the corner reading a paper and nursing a pint, two students fiddling with phones and crisps and an older gent munching on a sausage roll. By now he was leaning on the bar looking up, down and across optics, racks and glasses for Carol.
Up from under the bar a dark head popped and a gruff voice announced “Aye, what’s yours!” Craig was momentarily stunned, no Carol just this white shirt, steely blue eyed interloper. “Emm..IPA please, a pint!” The new barman looked away and poured the beer slowly, carefully, he knew what he was doing. “So’s Carol not in tonight?” Craig gulped at the end of the short sentence. “Carol?” the barman said casually, “aye she’s gone, am just fillin’ in.” “Ah right, Carol’s in tomorrow then?” “Naw, she’ll no’ be back.” Craig gulped again. “Got another job then, another pub?” “Naw, getting’ married, this weekend, keeping it quite, her lad's a biker, £2.70 that’ll be.” Craig handed over three pound coins, scooped up the pint and wobbled towards one of the round tables. He was controlling himself well, nobody could know, nobody could see the huge slow tremble that was grinding up and down his spine like a lazy snake, feel the sweat and heat, the embarrassing heat, the warm backward glow of his failure.
Suddenly aware of his surroundings Craig saw he was facing the bar, seeing the space where Carol should be, the new barman now dotting back and forwards, serving a customer, handing over change, making the idle chat, switching the TV channels. Carol was gone and was marrying somebody, how could his goddess marry a mortal man, an ordinary man, a man not him, a biker. Craig finished the beer and without looking back left the pub, through the stubborn door and onto the street and the suddenly spongy pavement, no Carol, no future. He was looking at his shoes, the street lamps fished fat and distorted shadows from the paving stones, his shadow was staggering but was still walking, walking past his flat entrance and on down the road, walking in a panic, burning up and showering in a wicked adrenalin. A bright pub door was opening before him, not the Saracens’, this would do.
Craig woke up. He was squashed onto a wooden bench, a church pew. Looking around there was brass, stained glass, Jesus and Mary and assorted saints, assorted plaques dedicated to the heroic and rich local families, dignitaries and Victorians. He was at the back by the door with no memory of how he’d got there but today had become tomorrow, he could sense that much through an aching head. Looking over the carved edge of the seat he could see a lone figure down by the alter, some candles flickered in front of it, now recognisable as a woman. Slowly Craig rose to his feet and moved silently towards the alter and bank of candles. The woman was sobbing into her hands, quietly, purposefully, unloading. Craig looked at her, her head was covered, her age and look indistinct in the shards of stony church light. Craig sat beside her an touched her shoulder, he was feeling something but it was something beyond himself, a not knowing. The woman responded to his touch and fell silent, “Carol?” he said as if it was the only word he could find. The woman turned and with a crumbling and cracking voice said, “y..you knew her?”
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
They are there and they are everywhere, some say. In shop displays, grimy reflections, magazine covers and behind windscreens and tinted glass. Blankly staring out of office windows, on buses and other forms of public transport, in queues waiting to served with tea and coffee, standing beside supermarket trolleys, pushing supermarket trolleys, putting their purchases into trolleys and then depositing them into the rear end of a cheap Korean hatchback. Others hold mobile phones up to their heads and talk incessantly or text with their thumbs using those popular fonts. This is the unique vision, a world without end or sense, more painful shopping excursions, dirty public transport, food that reminds of congealed slurry and buildings built with materials that are suspect from designs that are corrupt. In the back ground sweet and soulful slide guitar music plays but is drowned out by the hammerings of the water pipes buried deep in the apartment walls. Once their clanging stops, strange screams and thuds are heard, all from unknown sources. The banal and the everyday are unpeeled before our eyes and after our unreliable thoughts have started to form into some pained rejoicing actions. So we cling to the cold wreckage and maintain a sober but polite sense of humour thinking “it could be worse and it could be better so it must be all that it is.”
A bright place in my 1950’s dreams
Scurrying across the pillow
In the monochrome of the TV
But sharp as gangster
And as defined as a cowboy
Black people in white shirts
And spaceships with monkeys in them
Hamburgers and Coke that you don’t get at the Coop
Road signs and hoardings
Names, games and advertisements
Households with porches and screen doors
Things that I don’t know what they are there for
Each telling some fantasy
That becomes as familiar as a friend
A foreign language I could comprehend
Where the ugly becomes as beautiful
As tailfins, long cigarettes or bucket seats
And so I lay me down to sleep
To dream of the mythical America.
“There are at least 27 islands but I have heard that the count can vary, at least two are inhabited and they are a fair size, the others are just covered in trees.”
“Surely you could just fly over and count them to get a true figure.”
“I’m sure that has been done but for some reason the count isn’t always consistent, even modern map makers can struggle at times.”
“Well I’d have thought that we had the technology to count a few islands on an inland body of water.”
“of course some of the islands aren’t islands at all, they are actually floating and from a surveyor’s perspective that could cause problems, you know, float islands might merge or sink or break or something.”
“OK but you can still establish what islands are real by simply landing on them.”
“I’m sure that has been done.”
“But every so often islands appear or disappear so fudging the count?”
“Well it must be possible, we’re a developed country.”
“Crannogs? Are they called crannogs?”
“The floating islands?”
“Well they could also be man made, perhaps thousands of years old but still floating.”
“Crannogs don’t float, they rest on wooden stakes or piles or something, and in relatively shallow water.”
“They could be mistaken for islands though.”
“Well yes, in the sense that they are in the water but not on it.”
“We need to take a boat trip.”
Friday, July 10, 2009
The most commonly played card in the pack
Placed face down
Worn at the edges
Constructing the end of the game
Celebrate the way we came
To be here in this adopted strangeness
Always unaware of the rush
The breeze that blew the years
Was just exhaled breath
And I sip and suck
On past times and curse what passed for luck
I took no time to even mention
The tired and unjust predestination
That colours all their chaotic thoughts
And bought us nothing
So we salute the rain
And the intermittent stimuli
That feeds a waking need
Some tunes and fragments
As we go
As our forces splinter
Some summer memories in winter.
Monday, July 06, 2009
In this state mind, not fevered but normal in his opinion, all of Kelvin’s waking hours were spent exploring and studying other ways to tackle the rudimentary and the basic things in life. At times the copious amounts of lateral thinking were almost painful. He would break into sweats making a cup of coffee or spend thirty minutes trying to decide where best to lay down the TV remote, the position of furniture, groceries placed in cupboards, clothing in drawers and on hangers, mixing laundry and then the optimum amount of time to wear any piece of clothing. Sometimes getting out of the house was a major problem if there was some new approach that he had to test out whilst in the process of leaving. Fifty ways. He soon began to realise that he needed a better method of establishing better methods, his own world was too small and his time available never enough and of course the point of better methods was to get to the place where all these economic methods paid off and the individual became free to other things. That point seemed further away than ever as Kelvin wrestled with mundane activities that continually scream out for his attention.
Sometimes he felt like god hearing the many never-ending prayers for improvement and understanding from the routine tasks: Shower from the head down, only use one shaving product, comb wet hair, just a centimetre of toothpaste on the brush, turn the tap 1.5 turns, socks on last, always put your valuables in the same pockets or bag space whenever you go out- so it went on.
Eventually Kelvin made it outside and into his car and after a short altercation with himself decided on the best route to take to his office. Already tired by his incessant self analysis and questioning he began to day dream in the way that regular drivers do. He was conscious of moving forward, slipping up through the gears, weaving through traffic and obeying the many signs and lights that came into his blurred field of vision when it occurred to him, “Why not get others to do it all for you?” That was it, get others to study the methods, make the improvements and then they’d simply update him in a way that allowed his adoption of their method. Suddenly he was aware of his driving again as he slowed down to join the queue of traffic that was forming up in front. So what was the best method to employ to get others to develop these best methods and then in turn report them. This was something he’d have to research. The best methods to engage and motivate people, the means to inspire them to understand his goals and then for them to have a similar motivation to deliver solutions. This in itself was significant and he’d need more help with it, just to understand the process before he fully embarked on it through his extra hands. It was as if Kelvin’s universe’s boundaries had spurted in growth exponentially, now where could he go and where would this takes him?
Kelvin’s office was very logical in it’s layout, it had taken a few attempts but now once the furniture had been rearranged numerous times a truly methodological balance had been struck, the emphasis being on function and not form. He sat at his desk, switched on the PC and picked up the phone, he looked at a list of numbers on the wall and punched the keys. “Hello is that the First Minister’s Office? Kelvin Bishop here at The Scottish Executive, I’d like to speak to somebody about a slab of new funding urgently required for a very special project that I‘ve recently become aware of.
Almost two months later Kelvin handed in his resignation, there were by now a team of 25 people working on “better methods” on behalf of the people of Scotland. The “Better Usage Methods - Measures Engineering Revisions” or BUMMER Project was taking Scotland and the lives of the common people by storm. Neurotic and irrational behaviours has increased by 50% in the few weeks the project had been operating and domestic violence and personal debt are spiralling out of control. “Excessive social micro-management, change for the sake of it and increased self based absorption are the causes” said an official spokesman.
Kelvin was last seen heading for the international departures desk at Edinburgh Airport carrying a biography of Tallulah Bankhead in one hand and a Chinese “ear” cushion in the other. He seemed to have hit upon a better method.
Next morning he awoke with little recollection of the previous night, typical Friday was as much as Brian thought. It was only when he lazily took of his pyjamas and stepped into the shower that he realised that something was not right. The previous evening’s small spot was now about a inch wide, a deep dark brown and was covering the entire head of his penis. He applied soap and scrubbed and inspected the result only to see no difference. He comforted himself with the thought that at least there was no pain or bleeding and that it must be some sort of skin pigment problem or mole that no doubt could be treated eventually. That would be ok.
At work Brian was distracted and much more than usual paid visits to the toilet, not to use it but to inspect the “browning” effect. With each new observation it became clear that the small square stain was spreading rapidly and Brian was beginning to panic. He quickly excused himself and drove down to the local A&E where he demanded an urgent consultation. The details of the problem were difficult to explain the young lady on reception but fortunately a male doctor came upon the scene and seeing his obvious distress ushered him into a cubicle.
Brian blurted out what he understood to be the problem and the doctor duly examined him. “I’ll need to run some tests, please wait here a few moments” said the doctor, his face a picture of perfect puzzlement. Brian tried to calm himself and not look but as the examination had been running it had almost been as if the new colouration was moving more rapidly, almost right down to the base of his penis and threatening the rest of his body. Already he looked like a white man with a black dick, a concept he did not find amusing.
The doctor returned accompanied by a female doctor and a nurse, “do you have any pain?” A series of questions followed whilst the nurse administered what was described as “ a relaxant”. Brian continued answering the questions as best as he could but his head was starting to swim, the medical faces blurred and their speech rose and fell like some peculiar and formless music. In a few minutes the waves of sleep overcame him and all was gone.
Brian awoke slowly in what he realised was a strange bed, behind the curtains it was clearly night time and the room was only lit with the red glow of emergency exit signs. He stared at the dull ceiling and angled unlit lamp and tried to collect his thoughts and walk away from whatever dreams had passed over him. He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles and let out a gasp. Even in this poor light he could see that the skin on his hands was a very deep brown, the colouring had spread. He pulled back the bed sheet, sat up abruptly and opened the surgical gown. All his skin was affected, head to toe , a new thick skin had formed. Bursting with an indescribable feeling he stretched across the bed to look into the small vanity mirror. An eerie beery black face stared back and crop of new and frothy white curls was perched on top of his head.
Suddenly a light switched clicked, the room was dowsed in a brighter but unhealthy electric glow and the doctor walked in. “Ah! Brian, Mr Encino, I’m glad to see that you are awake, I’m afraid it’s what we thought, a pigmentation problem has occurred within your skin and hair cells. As you can see your tone has turned a very dark brown and I’m afraid it is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. “ “God almighty.!“ Brian gulped and made some curious choking sounds. “Nurse!” called the doctor.
When he next regained consciousness he quickly became aware that the doctor was there hovering over him checking a pulse and writing on a chart. Along with him were two men in suits who sported grim expressions on their faces and did not look like the usual medical types. “Mr Encino, these gentlemen have asked to see you, they are from a famous local brewery, apparently there was a problem with a recent batch of Guinness“.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I had wanted to drink more but by now that seemed pointless. In fact I just wanted to drink, smoke, eat and stimulate every part as far as I could and could survive. I imagined an imaginary line, red in colour somewhere near the top of my head, I wanted it all to go up there and beyond, covering the dip stick. All the dials showing full and fuller still. It was a series of silly , destructive, juvenile, lovable thoughts. I tried to dismiss them but who has any power over their thoughts, who can exercise that kind of control over any such an abstract thing?
I was probably rolling now, probably unsteady, doorways, stairs, seats and the smell of cooking, the wide world I was peering into all had a warm and ragged edge attached. Seats and levers and a vague sense of the others around me. I knew it (the feeling) didn’t belong there and I didn’t belong either. It was about then that I became aware of the clouds. White and shiny and magnificent. A wild parade of random curves swooping and diving in their own cloudy slow motion and I felt I was amongst them. Rays of golden lasers of sunlight would penetrate and pursue them ready to bring them low as if they were hostile bombers in formation. Light like some surgical incisor pushing into the droplets and swirls, threatening to deflate and explode all this flying water, brining it down as an unholy rain on the masses below. The white fluff moved towards me and through me, I was excited and elated and on the edge of needing to be drinking more, everything in my senses was overloading and the barrage of cloud was like some final piece of over indulgence. I was focusing on the strange detail, the changing shapes, seeing the inside out and the microscopic detail that was pushing against my retina and back into my brain. I was high.
Time was a lost concept, the cloud armies overrunning and over coming at me like crazy Chinese warriors or a sweating and rising Hawaiian surf. I felt my nose pressed against glass, my palms were dry and then wet, there was a crackle in my ears, I was still elated but unaware, the voices were close and then far. I could hear words but not get the meaning. I pulled my fingers tight and moved my knuckles, like a pianist preparing to play some elegant sonata. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and read the music, see the notes and hear the tune. I knew I was a part of something, I knew I was in a team, perhaps the leader , perhaps the apprentice, surely the apprentice, young and immature and infatuated with clouds and the silly feelings of feeling good. I must because I had an invigorating and clear sense of having no responsibility, no pressure. Perhaps I was the tea boy or a messenger who just fetches and carries and never has to think. I must be that, a winged messenger striding through the tinted fields of strato nimbus and cumulous without a care like some flipped out experience junkie. Maybe an angel, maybe I have been hitch hiking and an angel picked me up.
Minutes and hours rushed by and I suddenly became aware of my white shirt, it gleamed like some bright sword cutting across my torso into the skies. What am I wearing and where am I now? A firm hand is on my shoulder, more unexpected noise, vibration travels up my arm, I’m controlling, people are to the left, clouds to the right, close rushing clouds, grey now and thick as soup. The voice in my ear becomes clear, I’m wearing an ear piece so it travels right through my head, jarring and breaking into the warmth of the dream, “Stanstead tower to EZ361, clear for approach, over!”
Giocomma Masteriosso was fed up fiddling with the still controls of the Audi, he cursed the plastic switches and chrome levers and exited the dead car slamming the silver door behind him. “Tomorrow I will live in far less of a technologically reliant bubble and will not succumb to the compromises that so often make me angry and see little red spots”. He pointed to some spot between his eyes and began a nervous operatic whistle walking away from the vehicle. The day was one of those days that’s not really sure of itself. It may have been midweek and that could make it one of the main three, no more no less. Funny how you always know what day it is, unless you are in a coma or very drunk, whatever, somebody will always tell you if you ask but they may suspect you are a time traveller of some sort. Or a lazy calendar user who lives in and communicates with broken sentences.
For Gio leaving the car was a significant event, a bit like losing a limb, he would have to walk now. That meant that the car was more of an arm than a leg otherwise he’d have been hoping or crawling. He questioned the need for the journey one more time and then carried on. He had to buy a gift. The car lay 100 metres behind, not causing any real obstruction, he’d do some thing later with it once he’d prowled around the mall and located the gift like a real hunter gatherer. He estimated that he’d be there in about fifteen minutes and despite the auto irritation gnawing at the corners the walk was potentially a pleasant one.
Now there was some time available to consider the gift. He’d never bought a woman shoes before but he knew that Sara had seen a pair of golden sandals in one of the shops and he wanted to surprise her. The problem was he was unsure of the shop, the exact type of sandal and worse the exact size of Sara’s feet. He thought about her feet a lot, their shape, their feel, the nail polish, the rougher skin around her heels, her white toes, they’d be a five or six he was sure. He wished he’d looked into her shoes and read the size but it was more feet than shoes for him so he didn’t ever inspect her inner shoe. Now that was a regret and clearly many missed opportunities to glean the size. There are some things you should know about your fiancé albeit the romance had been short. Obvious things.
His mind moved to foot touching in bed, soap bubbling between wet toes in the shower, games under restaurant tables, on the couch rubbing feet on the stool watching a TV soap. He thought how their size might compare to his bigger, stubby and chunky ex-Italian feet. A six would be best.
He didn’t know the day but the time was apparent from a digital clock hanging over the mall car park entrance, it blinked a yellow 10:24 at him and a 23 degree weather check. Today is a warm day and one that will get warmer thus underlining the need for nice cooling footwear that protects but glamorises the feet in an attractive and appropriate way. For Sara. To the left was a short cut up some concrete steps, through the car park jungle and urine stained walkways and corridors, sunlight playing on idiot graffiti and water salted cracks and marks. Up to the shopping level, briskly through heavy and impractical doors to the bright lights and thin music of the mall. He stopped and took it in and took his bearings and briefly remembered the broken Audi. “I thought they were supposed to be reliable?”
The shops glared back at Gio as the Audi angry briefly abated and he took stock of his situation. A travel agent, a heel and key bar, a ladies fashion handbag shop, a chemist, a cheap gadget and gizmo shop, a stall selling pastries and another selling watch batteries and useless plastic accessories for mobile phones. He would have to move further into the body of the beast to battle and to win.
The mall people were eyeless as if they to had lost track of the days and were hovering, staring at the bright objects but never deciding or buying. They moved in some syncopated shuffle whilst children and old people cut across their paths like herds mingling on the Serengeti unaware of the lions watching from the bush. Bags were dragged, tattoos, caps and midriffs sped buy, faces that seemed familiar but were of a type, some ugly gene that always belonged to other people. The one you never wished for in your family and if you caught sight of it, that glimpse it shook you to the core. People carried cups of coffee, water and soft drink bottles, whatever the day they did not wish to sit and savour the drink, they poured it over their thirst as they walked, as if putting out some transient fire with a handy extinguisher and then quietly starting another once at a safe distance. Food and drink should not be consumed whilst on the move. That image was an indicator of a society in straight decline, at odds with itself and with no appreciation for the finer things or no perception of even what they might be.
He moved through the people and remained detached and for the purpose of his own position in the tribe pretended that he owned a working car as they all surely did. The neon and oddly yellow shop fronts opened before him like the mouths of dental patents starved of regular consultation and flossing. Each trader becoming less interesting than the next, there were of course shoes, boots, sandals and accessories stacked in racks and pushing against the inside glass of the windows but none were right. Gio was confused and exasperated and more than half way around the mall. Then he saw a sign peeking out from a brace of fast food booths and artificial flower vendors. “Casey’s Shoes”.
Casey’s held a selection of summer pumps, beach and deck shoes and sandals up and down in the window, shoes hung there like cooked meats on hooks and ribbons, some on bright coloured boxes others sat in the fat belly of a stripped deck chair. An assistant was finishing her work on preparing the display, fussing with a few models and sweeping some cuttings that had fallen onto the floor. Over on a tall pedestal by the door were a selection of glitzy, golden sandals. Flat and shiny, gold sinews of straps and braids, some with beads and little jewels all clean and new and tagged up to sell. The assistant approached Gio carefully avoiding eye contact and admiring to herself the work she’d just completed in the window. “Can I help?” Gio shrugged and swallowed and gestured towards the display of sandals and picked up a gold shoe from the top of the stack. “In a size six?” the girl took the shoe away and disappeared into that mysterious space that exists behind all shoe shops, a great dark storehouse where no one other than those in the trade ever go. A portal into a world of boxes and lefts and rights and the ones that come in half sizes or strange widths, all shielded by a curtain that covers this dark and unexplored world.
After a few moments the girl returned with a navy blue box stuffed with white tissue, the lid upside down under the bottom and the sandals brightly shining side by side in their paper bed. “$45.99” she said offering them to Gio like a sacrifice and without having been asked the question, “but only in a six and a half”. Gio looked over them and ran a finger across the strap and single buckle of the left shoe and allowed the box to drop a little. The assistant was still looking away, this time watching a young man trying on pale tennis shoes on the other side of the store. “Fine” said Gio and ambled to the cash desk where he handed over a small bundle of notes as the till beeped. The blue box was slipped into a glossy carrier and handed over, the receipt stuffed carelessly inside along with a summer sale flyer.
Gio swung the bag casually and walked back into the two way and restless traffic of fat bottomed shoppers and retired and silver haired masses killing their remaining time before it kills them. He followed a pastel draped shuffling posse into a coffee shop and thoughtlessly ordered a latte and lemon muffin from the teenage Asian assistant. It came wrapped in corrugated cardboard that reminded him of South American shanty town roofs. The muffin was in an unnecessary brown paper bag smattered with green messages, there was also a wooden stirring stick and a bleached napkin. “Four Dollar ninety cos of special offer” said the young man. There was a empty though not particularly clean table available with some unforgiving wooden seats close to the door , he occupied the space and looked over at Casey’s Shoes.
Going home would be the next problem, the mechanical mass and sterile lump of Audi needed attention and recovery. He fiddled with his phone and considered the need to call and then wander back through the mall and car parks to the spot where it lay by the kerb. By now it would hot outside and the waiting and the walking seemed unattractive, somehow like the hardest piece of work of the day. The coffee was insipid, the taste and the caffeine effect quietly strangled by the milk and the tepid feel of the liquid. The muffin was blank apart from a central jammy lemon effect and he imagined it had all come from a far away place, some place not quite right or completely clean. He looked deep into the carrier back and saw the box standing on end on the floor, the shoes pointing toe down towards the basement car park and into the earth’s hot centre.
Next to the shoe shop was a large Disney Store that threatened to swallow the walkway with it‘s breadth, green and yellow fairies and pirates were visible, dancing behind the glare of plate glass. He thought of the strange sexual chemistry, jealousy and spark between Wendy, Peter Pan and Tinker Belle and wondered where it would have ultimately led them. Who could have stayed happy in such a trio where so may issues and complexities existed and what would growing up bring them to? Things were never easy for those trapped in a life driven by the needs and wants of flesh and blood. It was at that point he remembered the first time he’d seen Sara’s penis.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Your use of the world amazing, repeatedly and without thought,
irritates me and does you no favours,
it shows how little you understand,
the power of words and their relative meanings,
and that it is not important to you,
to express yourself in a credible way,
so you deserve whatever you get next
and it will not be amazing,
of that much I am certain.
Friday, March 06, 2009
...than to follow the strong scent of life,
that takes us from here and into decency,
away from the perpetual longing,
that haunts a lonely and nameless population,
ones that are not us,
we grow and pick the moment,
our time to be,
we choose to rescue, we chose to be something more,
than even we remember.
Our fathers knew better,
but their message was lost,
they grew old and troubled,
and we stood as their root,
now a pretentious cloud passes,
and the young become the elders,
and pass on what they can.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
She's an Amazon
She shops on line and saves money
She's in the jungle and independent, unorthodox,
A vixen fox,
Be the queen if only somebody needed ruling,
The teacher if they had to catch up on schooling,
She's an Amazon
From Basildon, or the Home Counties,
Malls and creepers, police and bounty,
It's an origin,
Of the species thing.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Dance in the spotlight and share his grin,
Bathe in the milk and breathe out again,
Twinkle like starlight and shed your skin.
I'm coming around, I'm coming around,
I'm coming around, I'm coming around,
To your way of thinking.
I'm coming around so I face up to you,
I'm coming around to see your light,
I'm coming around for a biased rendezvous,
I'm coming around to set things right.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Over the hills and farther away than I can go
Locked in shadows I cant quite see through today
Backed into a corner and a dark unlit pool
Some kind of stretched longing
Some kind of well served memory
Puzzles and shapes
I think of Grey Havens or some other film's ending
A curtain pulling closed and my daemon no more
The end of the school play with no encore
I can never go back, no more than you
The spooky places reign.
I was clumsy at times and took things for granted
I made the most, watched, learned or I ignored
But I still believe myself to be a good person
As your fun, and killer instinct pulled me out
As you left your mark all over the place.
Thanks and sleep peacefully.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Money, sand and oil, staple foods and furniture,
Jets and company nomenclature
Real estate and squeezed up landfill,
Coke machines and traffic lights,
Now life runs to a standstill.
A junkyard angel to see fair play,
A bully and a bigot to run away,
A secretary to hold the calls,
A statistician to count your balls
A bonus, a gold card, a clever hunch,
A three hour champagne business lunch,
Let's all take some credit for the credit crunch.
Monday, January 12, 2009
In the long run.
In the short stop.
In the place and at a certain pace.
Effort makes art a special thing that thrives best when unappreciated.
Misunderstood is also some how good.
But be under no illusion, the paint that watches your ideas dry out will take revenge some day, far away and peel.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Fingers stuck in the door of 2009,
The melted chocolate of time
Where war breaks out and the moments melt
As things unknown pivot on the different day
And we seem worlds apart but nestling.
I speak five words or five lines but never enough
Talk is cheap and cheap talk is tough
Here come the signals from above
Driven from heaven and on your head like a dove
This must be love, love, love.
I want to mix things up but my energy’s bankrupt
A power struggle and crisis looms
From mist to morning, from frost to loss
Here in the warm alternatives we can belong.
Here in the New Year we can be strong.